Car shipping cost isn’t a fixed price because what you pay is determined by several factors. Along with things like distance and the size of your vehicle, it’s important to consider that car shipping prices are a matter of supply and demand. When you use a shipping broker, independent transport carriers bid on the contract from your auto shipping request. Otherwise, car shipping companies service the request directly with their own truckers.

Although you can usually get auto transport quotes, these estimates don’t always tell the whole story. The price you pay can change significantly from the initial quote to the time your car is delivered. Knowing what affects your car shipping cost and what to look for in an auto transport company can help you choose the right service for you.

What Determines Car Shipping Costs?

Carrier competition plays a major role in how much you pay for your auto shipment. There are many other factors that affect car shipping rates, including the following:

  • Shipping distance: This is a major factor in cost. While long-distance shipments cost more in total, they cost less per mile than shorter trips.
  • Pickup and drop-off locations: Shipping to and from urban locations is cheaper than shipping between rural areas. Having your car shipped to a terminal rather than going with door-to-door service can save you money. However, Sherpa Auto Transport only offers door-to-door shipping, which is typically more convenient.
  • Vehicle size: The weight, length, and height of your vehicle will impact shipping costs. The same goes for ground clearance, as cars that are lower to the ground are more expensive to ship.
  • Vehicle condition: Inoperable vehicles are expensive to ship because they need to be winched or forklifted onto a trailer. If your car is operable, the shipping cost will be lower.
  • Car carrier type: Open trailers are the most common car haulers and are the best option for the majority of customers. Enclosed auto transport is more expensive, but covered carriers offer protection from road debris for high-end vehicles.
  • Time of year: January and the summer tend to see the highest vehicle shipping rates because of higher demand.

Along with these factors, features such as additional insurance coverage or expedited service will increase your car shipping cost. We recommend getting car shipping quotes online to see which auto transport option is right for you.

How to Lower Your Car Shipping Cost

Auto transport services can be expensive, and costs can increase quickly. Along with comparing quotes from several auto shippers, you can reduce the cost of shipping by taking these steps:

  • Make your reservation early: Getting a jump on your reservation is important because it gives car shipping companies plenty of time to submit competitive bids.
  • Be flexible: Being flexible about car shipment can substantially reduce your cost, especially when it comes to pickup and delivery locations. Being open to a range of dates will also help.
  • Ask about discounts: Many car shipping companies, including Sherpa, offer discounts for students, members of the military, and first responders.
  • Empty your vehicle: Sherpa (and most carriers) require you to remove all personal items from your car before shipping it, partly because the extra weight could bump your transport price up. Keeping your gas tank below a quarter full reduces weight as well.

Typical Car Shipping Costs

Car shipping rates are highly variable, so Sherpa’s team has compiled the following list of cost ranges for different shipping distances. Note that these rates are for shipping an operable vehicle in an open carrier. It’s also important to note that cost is influenced by the many factors listed above, including shipment details and market conditions.

Shipment MileagePrice per Mile
0 to 500 miles$1.32 to $2.75
501 to 1,000 miles$0.88 to $1.55
1,001 to 1,500 miles$0.70 to $1.23
1,501 to 2,000 miles$0.60 to $1
2,001 to 2,500 miles$0.53 to $0.84
2,500+ miles$0.48 to $0.74

Popular Auto Transport Routes

Price ranges for popular vehicle transport routes can also help you get a better idea of how much you might pay for your shipment. Again, these cost ranges are influenced by shipment details and market conditions.

RoutePrice per Mile
New York City to Los Angeles$0.56 to $0.72
New York City to Miami$0.98 to $1.20
Los Angeles to Miami$0.48 to $0.66
Los Angeles to New York City$0.48 to $0.71
Miami to New York City$0.65 to $1.20
Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles$0.49 to $0.69
Chicago to Los Angeles$0.61 to $0.88
New York City to Houston$0.80 to $1
Los Angeles to Atlanta$0.48 to $0.74
Chicago to Phoenix$0.68 to $0.92

Shipping an inoperable vehicle or opting for enclosed car shipping comes with higher rates than the ones shown above. Getting online quotes is the best way to know what you’ll pay for your vehicle shipment.

What to Look for in a Car Transport Company

Along with competitive pricing, there are a few key things you need to consider when choosing a car shipping service. Below are some of the most important aspects to research about a company:

  • Experience: For maximum peace of mind, make sure a carrier has expertise and several years of experience in the auto transport industry.
  • Proven track record of safety: Knowing a provider can get the job done without incident is essential.
  • Customer reviews: Look for good online customer reviews and a high grade from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) before making your choice.

Why You Should Choose Sherpa Auto Transport

Sherpa Auto Transport is a great choice for a smooth car shipping experience, from the initial, all-inclusive quote to your vehicle’s delivery. Here are a few things that set us apart from the competition:

Price Lock Promise

When you get an online quote from Sherpa, that price is locked in. With our Price Lock Promise, you can have peace of mind knowing what you’ve been quoted is what you’ll pay. Sherpa will cover up to $300 of the difference if your shipment price changes so that what you pay stays the same.

Thorough Vetting

Our comprehensive vetting process means we work with only the best car shipping companies. We study accident reports, maintenance records, and other data points to maintain an elite network of trusted carriers.

Clean Car Guarantee

If your car arrives dirty after shipping with Sherpa, we’ll reimburse you up to $20 for a car wash. All you need to do is mail us your car wash receipt and bill of lading. You’ll receive a reimbursement of up to $20 on the payment method you used to ship your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions